A full quarter of Russian respondents to a poll by state-run pollster VTsIOM answered that jokes about President Vladimir Putin should be off-limits to comedians. 79 percent said religious jokes are inappropriate, with more than half answering the same for war and terrorism.
The poll follows an ill-received prank by the EU Observer claiming France’s Mistral helicopters would be issued to the European Union instead of Russia. However, it was an April Fool’s joke.
“All good jokes are appropriate, as is the fulfillment of a contract,” said Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
He also said “all jokes are appropriate, so long as they’re good.”
The poll found 79 percent of the people said they maintain “a good sense of humor” but listed many topics as off-limits. From The Moscow Times:
The poll also found that most Russians (57 percent) consider it inappropriate to poke fun at religious values. In general, religion is taken very seriously in Russia. A law passed nearly two years ago by the Russian parliament criminalized insulting the feelings of religious believers.
Among the other topics considered out of line for Russians to kid about were war, with 63 percent saying such jokes were unacceptable, as well as genocide and terrorist attacks (58 percent) and family tragedies (61 percent).
Most Russians do enjoy watching comedy films and television series, with 79 percent of those polled saying they get a laugh out of watching humorous shows. Forty-one percent said they listen to comedy radio programs, while 39 percent read rib-tickling literature and 37 percent browsed amusing websites online.
Putin shut down numerous opposition websites that dared to criticize his choices on Ukraine. On March 12, Lenta.ru’s chief editor Galina Timchenko resigned, but employees said she was fired because she defied the Kremlin and published an interview that quoted the Right Sector Party’s leader. Moscow identifies the group as extremist and a threat to Russia. The next day, many employees resigned in protest of her firing and censorship efforts from Moscow. Kommersant reporter Anastasia Karimova posted her resignation letter on Facebook and Instagram. She left because of censorship and said there is no acceptable work in Moscow for journalists. Despite Moscow’s explanations, many know it is because of tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Yevgeny Savostyanov, head of Russia’s Coordination Council on Intellectual Property Protection, quit after he witnessed a major crackdown on cultural “matters of public interest” within Russia. He criticized Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky in an open letter before he left.
“The reason for this decision is the stance that you and the Culture Ministry have taken on a range of important matters of public interests, as well as some of your public statement [sic] and remarks for which I am ashamed,” he wrote in his letter.
He was furious the ministry did not fund ArtdokFest, a festival for independent films, because “its president, Vitaly Mansky, made too many ‘antigovernment remarks.’” He also criticized the police raiding Teatr.doc, an independent “experimental theater” and Moscow ending its 12-year rental agreement with it.
These moves prove Putin is thin-skinned and a narcissist. Would he really tolerate any jokes made about him, especially on the home front?